Friday, June 09, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth

Leslie and I went to see An Inconvenient Truth tonight. It is a fascinating movie and you should all go see it. We can argue about whether you believe it or not later but first just go see it.

Al Gore has been giving this slideshow talk for years and he has really honed his message. In the film he makes his case that global warming is a fact, it is accelerating and it will have disasterous effects if not dealt with immediately. Personally, I think this movie is also a love story about Mr Gore and his PowerBook. He doesn't go anywhere without that computer and that bit was quite touching -- but the global warming bit is the main part.

I think there were two things that really struck me about this film. The first is the obvious one and that is the impact that global warming will have on us. Not our great-grandchildren but our immediate families. In fact, it already is impacting us. My parents live in Florida and they travel during the summer to get away from Hurricane Central. I wanted to go skiing last year in Whistler, but they didn't have enough snow. There are plenty more consequences coming which are much more dramatic, but it is real.

The second thing that struck me was what this movie says about discourse in America. Global warming is a complicated issue. There is a lot of data that needs to be presented for it to go from "yeah, it'll be a bit hotter this summer" to "San Jose, among other places, will be under water permanently if this continues." Over the 95 minutes of this film, Al Gore makes his case. He builds it carefully and leads the viewer down the path explaining each part carefully and never in the boring monotone that characterized him in the 2000 election. This is one of those issues that takes 95 minutes or more to really understand. There are lots of other issues like that as well -- the complexity of labor relations, what security really means in software, cloning but the sad thing is that we never make time for this type of discourse anymore. It's strange, too, because it is the same technology that makes it so easy for a presentation like this to be made that also oversaturates us with so much information that we feel the need to get everything cut down to a 10 second sound bite.

This may have been part of the downfall of Gore in 2000. He knew too much and wanted to give people real answers to their questions but we don't want real answers anymore we want convenient answers that fit in with what we already know. Pieces that fit neatly into our puzzle of knowledge. This person / country / issue / policy / company / restaurant is good - or bad. We thin slice everything to get to a conclusion and then move on to the next one. The problem is that these issues can't just be thin sliced. They need to be fully consumed before you can really grok it and that takes time and energy.

So here's my recommendation for this weekend. Take just 95 minutes and go see An Inconvenient Truth. Drink it in and decide to do something about it or dismiss it and do nothing. That part is up to you but just give Al Gore and his PowerBook the chance to persuade you.


Anonymous said...

Cam & I went last week, and want to go again to take Cole. I have to say, I was expecting to nit-pick it to death... as I tend to be a bit on the cyncial side on things like this. But frankly, even if you only believe a small part of the science, it's still incredibly frightening and powerful.

The hard part is figuring out how to make the change. I've been doing a lot of browsing over the past few days trying to figure out what the best options are... do we get a tankless water heater? Or just set it down a few degrees? Do we replace our light bulbs with compact florescents, or wait until the new LED bulbs are more available? Do we get a hybrid, or a diesel that can run on bio-fuel? Can I really not fly anywhere anymore??? (ouch!)

Well, we've made a start. We actually TURN OFF our lights at home now. Our whole street suddenly feels much darker at night. :-p

(BTW - Whistler had plenty of snow last year 2005-2006... it was the previous year that sucked. But, then I just have to be nit-picky about something, don't I.... ;-)

Anonymous said...

I recommend everyone also follow up and read comments from Dr. Bill Gray, who is regarded by many in the world to be the foremost expert on hurricanes and one of the top climate experts: he believes this all to be a big crock given the earth has a natural cooling and heating cycle that has been there since before humans roamed the earth.

Gray's big beef is that scientists are not engaging in discourse about this because it has become a "third rail" in politics. Politics and science should stay separate, whether it is global warming, stem cells, or what-have-you. I, for one, just want facts with my science, not dogma.

-- Rick

Leslie Irish Evans said...


I would really urge you to see the movie before you assume it's dogma. Gore really lays it out in a very fundamental way, including the fact that the "cyclical" argument doesn't really hold up. In short: there HAVE been cycles throughout history, but when you graph it, what's happening now is completely off the charts in terms of hundreds of thousands of years of data, "cycles" included.

Duffergeek said...

Rick, see the movie. As Leslie said there are cycles and this one is well beyond that. It is one of the more memorable scenes actually.

L, I'm still thinking of 2005-2006 as this year :). It looks like the last day of winter operations this year was June 4 though so I guess it is next year now. Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

I'll see it when it's on DVD. But I hope he at least brings up Gray and his concerns. I'd listen to the #1 climate expert if I were him. Even if he disagreed with me. It makes the story more believeable if there is some dissent.

I remember in 1975 the Newsweek "The Coming Ice Age" story -- my grandfather was OBSESSED with how the earth was cooling, all the experts were convinced, blah blah blah. Advance to now, complete opposite POV. How things change over time....


Duffergeek said...

Dr. Bill Gray - Is this really the guy you want to base your data on? He may have been predicting hurricanes for a long time but he seems a bit heavy on the dogma himself.

Anyway - no use arguing until you've actaully seen the data.

Anonymous said...

Who is arguing? I'm just saying it's smart to get all the data, both pro and con on this issue since there is division in the science ranks.